Ahhh – the long weekend. Four days where work takes a backseat to ignoring house chores and catching up on some essential viewing.
We at Newcastle Live love a good “rock doc” and, in that spirit, we have compiled a list of the top five music-tinged factual flicks to get you through the Easter break.
1.We Are Twisted F***ing Sister (2014)
Before Dee Snider gained major cool points by taking on Clive Palmer over the use of We’re Not Gonna Take It in a political ad, he was the lion-maned frontman for US glam rockers Twisted Sister.
This film though eschews the usual rock doc tropes by [no spoilers] ending before the band sign a major label contract and ‘make it big’.
Rather, this is an eye opening look into the band’s decades long slog around New York state clubland before Dee’s imposing visage was plastered all over MTV.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of the band or not. This wild ride is a lot of fun an essential viewing for music fans everywhere.
2. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)
If you are a burgeoning music promoter wondering what not to do when putting on a festival then you NEED to see this incredible, head-scratching doco.
It was supposed to be the perfect festival held in the idyllic Bahamian island Great Exuma for the instafamous and nouveau riche. Organised by entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, Fyre quickly devolved into a quagmire of lawsuits, broken deals and ineptitude.
As our very own Laura Kebby wrote in her review of the flick: “what could be categorised as the worlds greatest f**k up, Fyre festival was much less the promised exclusive experience and more like the Lord of the Flies on steroids.” Yikes!
3. Fearless Freaks: The Wonderfully Improbable Story of The Flaming Lips (2005)
This exhaustive doco about indie psych rockers The Flaming Lips goes where few documentaries are able to go.
That’s because director/narrator Bradley Beesley was a long-time friend of the band and had unprecedented footage of as they were forming as wide eyed teenagers.
His close relationship with Wayne Coyne and co gives this flick a personal touch that so many like it are sorely missing.
From their early days bashing out psychedelic punk in small Oklahoma venues, to filling stadiums with their whimsical stage shows – this is the Flaming Lips laid bare.
While you wont find this one on the streaming platforms, it’s a true gem worth digging up.
4. What Happened, Miss Simone (2015)
This portrait of Nina Simone, one of popular music’s most eclectic and evocative voices, was nominated for an Academy Award, and it’s not hard to see why. Although it did lose out to another top rock doc – Amy the tragic story of UK Chanteuse Amy Winehouse.
The film weaves together archival footage and interviews with those that new Nina best. It charts a life that was full of early prodigal talent, racism, abuse at the hands of her overbearing husband, increasing radicalisation and bouts of mental illness.
Through it all though, the music shines through and this film has some of the finest concert and recording footage ever committed to tape.
5. Searching for Sugarman (2013)
Part music bio, part detective story, Searching for Sugarman tells the story of criminally underrated singer songwriter Rodriguez and the influence he had on the country of South Africa.
Commercially ignored in the US Rodriguez’ music was picked up in South Africa but little was known about the man himself – in fact fans believed the singer to be dead.
That is until two die hard fans discover that Rodriguez was still very much alive and unaware of the impact he had in that country.
More than just a music documentary about an enigmatic singer, Searching for Sugarman is an uplifting experience.